Shark Fishing- It could save a life or two…

When most people hear the term ‘shark fishing’ I bet conservation isn’t the first thing that springs to mind.

In this blog I’d like to touch on a shark project titled ‘Jupiter’ which is led annually by the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation (BBFSF) team or ‘Sharklab as they’re affectionately known. This project is funnily enough based in Jupiter, Florida, is a 12 week annual assignment and run between January and April.

The objective of this project is to catch mature Lemon sharks (> 12-13 years of age) in a known and familiar aggregation site. Once caught the usual tissue samples (fin clip and blood drawn) are taken for DNA and stable isotope analysis along with measurements and most importantly for this project the sharks are internally tagged with an acoustic device. Sharks are also marked with a PIT (Passive Integrated Transponder) tag injected into the muscle next to the dorsal fin and externally tagged (National Marine Fishery Service, NMFS dart tag). An acoustic tag is approximately as long as your index finger and is inserted (through quick surgery) into the sharks body cavity which is located under the muscle near the pelvic fins. An acoustic tag transmits a signal every 5 minutes and can stay active, transmitting data for up to 10 years. A large array of static receivers logging the transmitters of many sharks allows scientists to determine when the sharks form the aggregation (i.e. at specific times of day, during the summer / winter? etc) and also migratory patterns which for this particular project is crucial. A receiver is simply that, mini-hydrophone housed in a ‘techy tube’ which listens for and records data from a tagged animal. The limitation with this type of tagging is marine life is only detected within a 500 meter radius of a receivers location. This method however is ideal for the Jupiter project as it allows scientists to target the aggregation with the data collected contributing towards the protection of valuable breeding sharks.

So, onto the juicy stuff! I was fortunate enough to spend a day on the boat with the BBFSF team and Captain Jo Fraser and what a day we had! The sun was shining and sea was calm and peaceful, the ideal fishing conditions! But, would we be lucky?

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Task number one; like all fishing you need bait so bait cutting was the first job on the cards! Messy. The second task was setting the ‘poly ball’ lines. What are they? ‘Poly balling’ is basically just large-scale float fishing with a hook one end and float on the surface that we can monitor from the surface. A huge benefit of this technique includes the sharks ability to swim freely, they’re not limited to a fixed location like in drum lining. This technique also reduces a shark’s hook time as it is very common for those fishing with poly balls to witness float separation/movement (you set the poly balls in a straight line so notice misalignment) and usually you’ll see a buoy/float moving through the water the moment a shark is caught. This means you catch ‘fresh’ sharks resulting in minimal anxiety and upset.

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Regardless of buoy/float movement the lines are religiously checked every hr. There’s a fine line between checking lines later and running the risk of possibly stressing a hooked shark verses checking the lines too often and disturbing/putting off any sharks interested in your bait. The Sharklabs numerous years’ experience has provided the optimum timescale to check the hooks; the balance of shark safety and shark research. Finally the last task was to wait wait wait. It’s actually rather exciting watching the balls waiting for movement, just like rod and reel fishing you watch your float patiently and question even the slightest bob!

Ok so the first line went and well.. it was a huge 3m+ Great Hammerhead!

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Great Hammerheads are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Redlist. In simple terms these Hammers are in serious trouble and with minimal scientific data on them, little can be done in protecting them.. at the moment. Hammerheads are known for their sensitivity, it’s regrettably very common for Great Hammers to die on fishing lines or after release of say ‘Big Game’ fishing, they simply can’t handle the stress. The Sharklab however has a 100% success rate with 0 mortality on Hammerhead captures in Jupiter which is a rare and wonderful achievement! So, back to it; we brought the shark to the side of the boat quickly and safely to assess how she was doing. As the shark appeared somewhat stressed no samples were taken, we noted her sex, estimated her length by eye and she was released immediately. It was amazing to see a team of scientists and students releasing a shark with minimal data to ensure the animal was safe. Any inclination the shark could get stressed meant the shark was released without hesitation. Shark safety was paramount. Sounds obvious? Imagine you were the scientist who required the data, would you be so quick to release the shark with the burning temptation to take samples which only take a few minutes? I was inspired and grateful to be surrounded by true shark lovers.

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Fishing continued. Another line went. As always we shouted out our guesses as we all impatiently fixed our eyes on the water eager to see what we’d caught! What a sight, we all spotted the stripes as a big Tiger shark cruises to the surface. Tigers are known for being quite ‘hardy’ and resilient and they are one of the rare sharks that appear to be un-phased (within reason) by scientists handling them.

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Bizarrely the Tigers we caught in Jupiter were covered in some kind of slim which I hadn’t seen before. I was unsure if it was perhaps a type of defensive reaction as we were catching them so fresh? I struggled to grip them with just my hands so gloves were used for a better grip, something new to me! All details were taken this time and the shark swam off strong within 15 minutes of capture.

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Next up was another Hammer. This time we watched the polly ball blast through the water like a scene from JAWS! As we witnessed the ‘bite’ we had the shark secured to the boat in under 7 minutes! We placed her into tonic (i.e. upside down) and conducted a full ‘work up’. This beauty swam away strong. Such an amazing experience seeing the detail of these Hammers so closely.

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As we re-baited our lines we saw another ball move. This time it was a firey Tiger, measuring just 210cm. This guy was full of life as sub adult Tigers are notoriously known for having a bit of an attitude! Another full work up and off he swam.

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Total sharks caught on the day: 3 Hammerheads ranging from 250-330 and 2 Tigers 210 and 260, yep that’s right no Lemon sharks (sad face). All data was logged and all sharks were released swimming away healthy and powerfully.

So with the sunlight fading it was time to head home. Once at the docks we off loaded our gear from the boat and cleaned every piece of equipment, down to the pencils! It’s hard to keep motivated after a tiring, yet exciting and long day in the sun but all equipment must be cleaned with fresh water as the sea salt practically destroys everything in its path with its incredibly aggressive, corrosive nature.

With all equipment cleaned and with dinner in the local diner consumed our work was done. A great day fishing and 5 sharks contributing towards research. In fact since the above day took place the Sharklabs scientific data from the Jupiter sharks has gone on to protect the aggregation. An incredible result that has restricted the commercial fishing season allowing the mature Lemons to receive the protection they so rightly deserve during key mating months. How fantastic is that!!

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Well another blog complete.. Hope you all enjoyed! Please don’t forget to give our Facebook page a ‘Like’ and to follow us on Twitter!

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What It Really Means To Be Dolphin Friendly

I wrote this Blog after www.thedodo.com commented on a Dolphin picture I tweeted asking me to write a blog for them about ‘The experience behind the shot’ which showed me diving with wild dolphins with no mask or fins. You can find the original blog here: https://www.thedodo.com/community/AnnieAnderson/what-it-really-means-to-be-dol-594539649.html Enjoy!

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We’d just started making lunch at home as a friend enjoyed the sea view peering through the small holes of a pair of binoculars in search of something exciting. A clear day offers the chance to see ‘wish list’ marine life such as sharks, rays, dolphins, huge barracuda, turtles, sailfish and if you’re VERY lucky you may even spot a whale……

“I swear it’s a single dolphin” “Don’t be stupid they’re rarely on their own” “Seriously.. Look”! 2 minutes later we frantically grabbed our snorkelling gear and sprinted (practically raced) down the beach and swam out to our boat anchored just off shore. The search was on!

Unfortunately we lost the rebel singleton however, and it’s a big however, within 10 minutes I spotted a pod, a huge pod of 30+ dolphins. Maybe our rebel wasn’t so brave after all! Without hesitation I sprung into the water and was closely followed by some excited friends. The dolphins however cruised past us with little interest and left us treading water in the notorious ‘Tiger spot’! We know big Tigers, Bulls, Great Hammerheads and Lemon sharks regularly patrol these waters and although I’m a keen shark lover I’m not entirely confident I’d have felt comfortable seeing an unexpected 4m shadow lurking beneath me!

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So back on the boat we clambered and within a few minutes we caught up with the pod but this time we had a plan. We edged just ahead of them, I leapt in and started free-diving down; twisting, turning and making creative shapes with my body, now I had their attention. Due to a dolphins complex mind, social nature and their advanced water skills attracting and holding their attention in the wild is pretty challenging to say the least! Interesting and engaging them is hard when you’re considerably slower than them, you can’t dive as deep and you don’t have their impressive breath hold! Diving, turning, twisting, spinning, splashing, blowing bubbles, crazy yoga diving type moves, screaming and singing underwater.. anything went! We all did our best, they accepted our attempts and welcomed our presence. I had a few magical moments with an adult and calf. They paralleled me as I dived down and circled me as I twisted and turned. I felt their curiosity and enjoyment as they mimicked my movements under the waves. It really was a special moment. I repeated the dive a few times ahead of them and yes you guessed it they singled me out, approached me and copied my somewhat crazy underwater dance moves!

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We were truly blessed to swim with these dolphins for over 3 hours and the moment they stopped ‘playing’ with us we called it a day. As a group of passionate animal lovers we didn’t touch or ride them and we didn’t over stay our welcome.

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I, like so many others have always wanted to swim with wild dolphins and have been fortunate enough to do so a few times around the world. However as us humans venture more and more into the sea we have an important role to play in protecting it so generations to come will also have the luxury of magical aquatic moments with wild sea life.

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Now I’ve always been a ‘water baby’ and cared about our oceans however in the past few years I’ve been shocked to discover the reality of how humans are abusing what our oceans have to offer. Highly intelligent mammals such as dolphins and orcas held prisoned in captivity for our ‘entertainment’, the destructive, inhumane and damaging large fishing boats armed with long liners, gill nets, purse seine nets and trawlers equipped to satisfy our growing greed for cheaper seafood. And let’s not forget the heartbreaking creatures that lie floating victims of beach swimmer nets. Our undeserving sea life being treated as dispensable and ultimately their lives as inconsequential.

The reality is masses of seafood consumers are turning a blind eye to what’s really going on. For example: how many of you eat (and pay a premium for) ‘dolphin safe’ or ‘dolphin friendly’ tuna for your tuna fish sandwiches? If so do you know why it’s marketed and labelled that way? Is it a process used to reduce dolphin fatalities whilst fishing for tuna? Well, yes, yes it is BUT there’s a much bigger picture and a high price to pay for other animals.

You need all the facts to judge for yourself what you feel comfortable accepting and what allows you to eat your delicious meal with a free conscious. Eating out? Consider, and ask (!) the species on the menu and the fishing technique used to catch your supper. Ideally they’ll have little or no bycatch (i.e. animals captured that were not the intended target) helping to protect other sea life where possible. You’ll never get the fine detail of boat landings/limitations, discards and whatnot however you can control what I believe is the most important part of the supply chain, demand. If they’re serving something you don’t feel comfortable admitting you’re eating, say NO!

Back to my point. The reality of ‘dolphin safe’ tuna is that bycatch for this method of fishing is far greater than the old, original method of tracking dolphin pods. The fishing technique changed due to the public outcry that dolphins were being killed as bycatch whilst fisherman targeted tuna. Now roles have changed as most dolphins swim free whilst the new technique takes more victims than ever before. Boats operating a ‘dolphin safe’ fishing policy use purse seine nets to capture tuna. Unfortunately they are indiscriminate and capture a HUGE variety of other sea life too, collectively known as bycatch. Bycatch includes but is not limited to: sharks, turtles, sailfish, many fish species, the odd dolphin and many additional sea screatures. Saving some of the world’s dolphins is costing us a great deal more.

Sharks. On average 100 million sharks are killed every year, that’s a shocking average of over 274,000 sharks killed every day by humans. This is considerably unsustainable and is damaging the balance within our oceans ecosystems. The majority of sharks in this figure is due to demand for sharkfin soup which is considered a delicacy in many countries but hugely proportioned to Hong Kong. Fins are taken from sharks targeted by fishing boats and sharks caught as bycatch. The ‘dolphin friendly’ tuna contributes towards this outrageous death toll.

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Turtles. Although turtle eggs are still considered a delicacy to some the act of stealing eggs from a turtles nest is not only frowned upon by many but is now illegal in many countries. Turtles are hit hard by drifting nets such as ghost nets and swimmer nets and yes you guessed it, the nets used to capture the ‘dolphin friendly’ tuna. Turtles are particularly vulnerable to netting methods as they need to reach the surface to breath, they wait trapped and entangled in nets hoping for a fisherman’s haul to set them free, however the reality it this rarely arrives in time.

My point? The only way to eat seafood comfortably is to know HOW your dinner was caught and WHAT species you’re about to snack on.

Back to my example of a tuna sandwich. The best, most sustainable fishing method for tuna is pole and line caught tuna where they are directly targeted and bycatch, if any, is released almost immediately. Get to know the brands that offer sustainable methods of fishing and help protect both the dolphins and the multiple bycatch sea life that would otherwise die in most ‘dolphin friendly’ tins of tuna.

Stop demand and you’ll stop destructive fishing processes. It’s been done before.

We can all make a difference but it’s down to us as individuals to make the effort to do just that. Whether you’re eating out or shopping in the local supermarket use Google to search your dinner choice, it’s a powerful tool!

Swim with dolphins in the wild, say no to captivity and always eat sustainably.

Link to sustainable fish listings: www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx and the IUCN’s redlist: www.iucnredlist.org

Link to understanding fishing methods: www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/oceans/marine-reserves/fisheries-problems-today/

Christina Milian- Instagram war!

A short blog with a quick victory story!

Many months back the celebrity singer Christina Milian uploaded a number of shocking images to her Instagram and Twitter accounts for her Million+ followers to view. The images uploaded showed numerous sharks her and some friends had caught and most probably killed. Yep you guessed it the shark lovers and #SharkArmy found this unacceptable and agreed it was not a positive example to set from a person in the public eye considered a role model by many.

IMG_6548In short we set ourselves the task of having the images removed.

Our plan? To comment negatively (yet informatively and accurately) on the shocking Instagram and Twitter pictures whilst reporting them along the way. Wow did it snowball. People from all over the world joined in as we targeted Milian and requested the removal of the images. She refused to take them now.

photoNote the somewhat inappropriate hash tag #ConqueredThat displayed under 2 sharks that appear lifeless and dead. To make things worse she got aggressive with her fans and even replied ‘U sound like a bitter biatch. Get a life’ to one of them!photo

With enough persistence and hundreds of comments and reports later the images were removed. The power of the people won showing Milian and others in the public eye that you can’t go around publicly promoting and hurting our oceans sharks and do so fuss free! It doesn’t matter how famous you are social media reacts to reports on images and will remove them if enough people complain! United we’re a powerful bunch of reporting shark lovers!

Nice job all! Hopefully Milian has told some of her celebrity friends this little story and they too will think twice about what they do and what they promote as acceptable to their fans.

Milian, done.

“I am writing to you because there is a shark in my swimming pool!”

The following blog was written by #SharkArmy member Sorrell.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written educational material for the students of the after-school club at Navigation Primary School in Altrincham, Manchester. The club is run by Matthew Payne from @A_Fathers_Pride and excitingly this particular club has received input from many individuals and organisations teaching the younger generation about a variety of animals and conservation issues.

It’s thrilling to know that I’m helping kids understand the complex ecosystems surrounding sharks, their ecological importance as well as supplying them with relevant, inspiring information. By providing general facts and statistics on individual shark species and promoting the threats they face it makes me feel like I’m making a difference, if only a small one!

Most importantly of all I’m delighted to hear these kids are just as enthusiastic as me about these magnificent animals! They even pester their teacher to learn more about our finned friends which is exactly what triggered the latest sharkie project below. Of course, I had to take the bait and help out..

So this time around I produced fun fact sheets to engage, educate and inspire them. The fact sheets produced were species specific which was a great opportunity for me to learn more myself! Two fact sheets were produced, the Great Hammerhead (sphyrna mokarran) and Sand Tiger Shark (carcharias taurus).

FOR A COPY OF OUR FACT SHEETS PLEASE EMAIL US :-)

The kids all aged between 7-8 years enjoyed the fact sheets and went on to produce their own versions with some additional information. Some even created new additions based on different sharks; Makos and Great Whites were amongst the favourites! I was thoroughly impressed and as you can see in the pictures below they put a lot of thought into these making them look all sharkified with bites taken out of the paper and illustrations that far rival my own attempts at drawing!

Take a look at some quotes and pictures:

Bertie on the Mako shark: ‘..Another little known fact is their top speed is 60mph, but normally swim at 35mph’

Zara on the Great Hammerhead: ‘Do you think sharks are mean? You’re wrong, they’re kind!’.. ‘ Did you know?.. The teeth of the Great Hammerhead shark are triangular and strongly serrated in both jaws’

No name on this one.. but a powerful and important message: ‘If we aren’t careful sharks will be extinct’

I was also honoured to be used in their literacy class where the kids wrote an imaginary collection of letters to and from myself about a shark that they found in their swimming pools, ponds, lakes or wherever their imaginations took them! These were very entertaining to read and again, visually pleasing. I wish I could draw..!

I’ve taken the liberty of providing you with some snippets and again, those jawesome pictures!

LETTER 1

‘Dear Sorrell Hatt,

You will never guess what I found on my trampoline! It was a shark it looks grey and has gills and lots of teeth. Please can you give me some more information on the shark?

 Love Anna

 P.S. I think it might be hurt’ 

LETTER 2

‘Dear Sorrell Hatt

I am writing to you because there is a shark in my swimming pool! I think it is a basking shark. I put a picture in could you help me? What does a basking shark eat? I fed it some krill would that be ok? I’m worried that it is alone and should be with its herd. Could it be hurt?

 Write back soon and let me know what I can do.

From Kane

 P.S. when I am older I would like to save sharks’

I hope you all agree that these kids are both very passionate and talented. It lifts my spirits to know that they enjoy taking part in these projects and that they are keen to know more- even more inspiring to see that some of them want to save sharks at such a young age!

I wish these kids all the best with whatever they choose to do as they grow, I hope that they continue this empathy for all animals and I hope to work with them again in the future.

The more kids realise we’re all connected and that sharks along with many other vitally important species deserve our upmost respect and most certainly protection the better this world will be for future generations. I am left inspired. I hope you are too.

Sorrell

Please remember to follow the #SharkArmy on Twitter! @SNLSharkArmy

 

Like the ocean, my kicks are Blu…..

Hi everyone! So, when an eco-friendly, shark loving company offers you a pair of free SHARK kicks (shoes to us Brits) to try out on behalf of the globes shark lovers how could a girl refuse??

To confirm; I was given a pair of Whaleshark, yes Whaleshark themed shoes to play on the beach, wear on the boat and drink in the bar! – All to ‘put them through their paces’. I wasn’t disappointed! Comfy, high quality, fashionable and most importantly to me, SHARK themed!!!! Another huge plus is that BluKicks CARE about our planet. From every sale they donate a little to recognised charities such as WildAid. I simply love their mission statement on their website: ‘Our brand was inspired by our love of the environment, so it is important to us that we do our part to help out.’ ‘Whether we’re supporting a ban to end shark finning, helping protect the coral reef habitat in Hawaii or joining a local beach clean-up, we want our business to make a positive impact on the environment.’ .. What’s not to love!

So the kicks get a big thumbs up from me! I would certainly recommend them; they most defiantly catch people’s eye and have started a few sharkie conversations on the street! Go on… treat yourself!

BluKicks main website: www.blukicks.com

.. and most importantly the jawsome shoes can be found here: www.blukicks.com/collections/womens-shoes/products/womens-whale-shark CURRENTLY ON OFFER FROM $58 TO $39

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BluKicks also interviewed me so if you fancy a read I’ve posted it below………..

Annie Anderson- About me
I’m a fiery, 5’6” Redheaded British woman with a somewhat unhealthy love for sharks! Sharks have been  part of my life for as long as I can remember and I’ve been fortunate enough to dive with a vaierty of species around the world. From breathtaking waters of Bornero to Dubai, Oman, Cuba, Bahamas, Florida, Thailand, to the stunning Maldives, The Philippines, Egypt and beyond! Observing, diving, handling, photographing and fighting for our sharks survival is what I’m all about!
What’s your Ideal “Playing Hookie Day”?
My ideal day would be waking at 8am, having an English tea (milk, two sugars) with two slices of brown toast and butter followed by a brief walk in the sun to a docked, clean boat full of dive gear and equipment. I would then be greeted by Jacque Cousteau, William Winram, Elvis and Eminem for a day free diving in crystal clear, tropical warm waters with Scalloped Hammerheads, schooling Barracuda, the odd Orca, a 4m Greenland shark, a 200+ wall of cuttlefish and various other sharks, rays, fish and mammals! – Come on you did say IDEAL hookie day right?
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Never make the assumption that you can work hard now to buy yourself free time later down the line. Do everything you’ve dreamt of while you can, take risks and live for the moment because nothing is guaranteed, including more time.
What’s your favorite beach/seaside town?
My favourite seaside destination has to be Torquay in Devon, England. It’s a historic English town where you can buy sustainable, delicious, locally caught fish and chips as you stroll around the local harbour being coated in the warm colours of a sunset. The wonderfully untouched English Riviera of the south never disappoints.
What is your best travel tip?
I could write a whole blog on travel tips as I LOVE to travel! But if I’m only allowed one then I’d say STOP at least once a day, at the same time (set an alarm) to reflect on what you’ve experienced over the last 24hrs. Appreciate the moments you’ve had and relive any that have made you feel alive! Reflect on your experiences, perhaps the strange food you’ve eaten, the weather, the buildings, the roads, the history, the smells, the people, the faces, the language, and those magical, unforgettable moments. You may never return so relive the past 24hrs if only for a few minutes.
If you were a fish what one would you be? Why?
Well ‘technically’ sharks aren’t fish, however as most people call them fish I’ll make an exception in this instance! So, if I were a fish I would be a Great Hammerhead shark. Hammerheads have a huge home range and migrate vast distances. With this in mind I would be a Hammerhead so I could swim around warning others of our alarming IUCN status (Endangered) and dish out advice to avoid humans, fishing lines and easy meals (which may possess hidden hooks) at all costs! With approximately 100 million sharks being killed every year we must do all we can to help them!

The original interview can be found here: blog.blukicks.com/post/77745367620/annie-anderson-im-a-fiery-56-redheaded

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog as always sharkie peeps!
Annie
PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO THE SNL BLOG :)

 

Blacktip action!

Blacktips (Carcharhinus limbatus) and the BBFSF (The Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation) Team

In this blog I hope to grab your attention whilst I write about some exciting Blacktip fishing and how you can help do your bit for sharks, even from the comfort of your reclining armchair or perhaps the early morning train you ride to work!

Blacktip action 

A team and I headed out at noon with our pack lunches full to the rim, sun cream at the ready and fishing equipment cleaned and waiting for action! So with our lines set it was, as usual, a waiting game. A few curious fish were drawn in to circle the bait and the odd stingray cruised past to have a closer look what was on offer but no sharks, no sharks had picked up the scent of the fabulous lunch that we’d placed on offer.

Then, as were chatting away discussing various topics from food preferences to shark stories a Blacktip skimmed the boat and we literally watched her take the bait! You couldn’t have planned it! TJ (The Manager of the Sharklab) started to reel the shark in whilst Jean and I prepared the equipment ready for the sharks ‘work up‘. Within a minute we managed to grasp a good grip of her dorsal fin and quickly but safely secured her to the boat.

As usual the ‘work up’ consisted of taking a DNA sample (finger nail size) from the bottom, trailing edge of her dorsal fin, a small sample from the middle edge of her dorsal fin for Stable Isotope analysis allowing scientists to investigate her diet. We also recorded her measurements which included pre-caudal, fork and her total length and lastly she was Casey tagged (National Marine Fishery Service, NMFS dart tag). Casey tags are used to externally mark individual sharks in the USA and Bahamas. Once the data is recorded all researchers/scientists send the information to the NMFS allowing the data to be centralised for analysis. Within 15 minutes our Blacktip shark was caught, ‘worked up’ and released. She swam away strong and the team swung a high five! In Bimini each year the Sharklab capture around 50 male and female blacktip sharks ranging from 100-180cm total length. Genetic samples are then analysed by the Sharklab’s collaborators at Stony Brook University (Dr. Demian Chapman, PhD Candidate Mark Bond) and preliminary findings suggest that Blacktips in Bimini are more closely related to those from Cuba and the rest of the Bahamas than Florida. The deep, fast moving gulf stream between the US and Bahamas likely acts as a barrier to gene flow preventing Blacktips from Bimini crossing and vice versa. Pretty neat!

The ‘Sharklab’ - www.biminisharklab.com

Now I’d like to talk a little bit about some of the BBFSF ‘Sharklab’ staff. There are SO many incredible people at the lab but I’d like to mention a few in particular.

Firstly let me introduce Dr. Tristan Guttridge. Tristan is the Sharklab Director, a leading shark scientist and a passionate behavioural ecologist. Tristan has released many quality papers published in top journals and has worked alongside a variety of top sharkie experts. He’s regularly filmed and interviewed for the likes of the BBC and well, I’m not quite sure if Tristan is scared of anything but he’s certainly not scared of sharks! Any of them! All of us shark enthusiasts love being in the water with them, but it’s as if Tristan is one of them sometimes, you see him amongst them and for some reason it just looks so natural. Lemons, Tigers, Caribbean Reefs, Hammerheads, Bulls.. The lot! I can never decide if he is a total shark lover who understands body language and gestures or if he just lacks the fear gene! Either way he is incredibly talented guy and someone I had to mention!

Next I would like to write about the French legend that is Jean- Sebastien Finger. Jean is a PhD student at the Sharklab and I can honestly say inspires me every time I’m in his presence. Imagine a guy who has a powerful beard, sorry, I mean passion for shark conservation mixed with an advanced, complex mind for science and finished off with being an approachable, honest, genuine, all round nice guy, then you can imagine Jean. Jean’s project at the Lab is focused on shark personality. He is investigating and analysing shark behaviour to show sharks do indeed have a full range of personalities. Some bold and curious as well as shy or cautious. Just like us humans sharks are diverse and unique individuals. It’s an exciting project and I have been fortunate to assist Jean with a variety of his experiments. I could totally see Jean having his own TV series as he is a cross between a ‘mad scientist’ and ‘shark whisperer’ I just know people would be intrigued, impressed and inspired by him!

So, why help?

The Sharklab has been conducting research for over 20 years and has one of the most respected and admired histories within the shark world. Last year alone the Sharklab contributed towards a number of ground-breaking and important projects such as the discovery that Lemon sharks in the Bahamas return home to pup in the very place they were born, just like Salmon or Sea Turtles. This scientific information is crucial for protecting their birthing habitat in the wild mangroves, especially when those particular mangroves face the pressures of a building development. The Sharklab also initiated a project in Florida that went on to protect Jupiter’s Lemon shark aggregation this year. An incredible result that has restricted the ‘fishing season’ allowing the mature Lemons to receive the protection they so rightly deserve during key mating months. The Sharklab has conducted such crucial research with the help and support of volunteers and the generous contributions of donations and grants. The Sharklab is a non-profit charity meaning all donations really do make a real difference and go directly in the Sharklab pot.

How you can help?

There really is a way for all of you to help, it just depends on you, how much time you have and how passionate you are!

The Sharklab accept one-off donations by cheque or via Paypal, full details can be found on their website here: www.biminisharklab.com/support Another way to help would be to raise funds on their behalf. Last year I used social media including Twitter and Facebook to raise over $500 in a week which in all honesty was fairly easy and didn’t take much of my time! We can all do our bit even from the comfort of our armchairs! If you want to get out of your armchair how about doing a sponsored run? Walk? Head shave?! Anything! Still wanting inspiration? How about donating something to the Sharklab? They use everyday things such as nails, hammers, cable ties, towels, food, pencils, pens, golf carts (!) boats (!) – You name it and I’m sure they need it! What about you? Where do you work? Could you offer them help with your skill set? Contact the lab direct and see what YOU have that they may need..

The take home message is whatever you do, do something. The Sharklab is a non-profit organisation so all donations, financial or otherwise are welcomed and you would be contributing towards fantastic, cutting edge research.

Well that’s it for another blog, I hope you enjoyed and please subscribe to this blog to keep up-to-date with the latest SNL gossip, stories and campaigns.

SUBSCRIBE HERE: http://sharksneedlove.co.uk/?page_id=728

Chat soon everyone,

Annie :-)

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Hilton Hotels- The final frontier

Ok so this is just a quick blog to confirm some VERY exciting news you may or may not have heard!

Approximately 2 years ago I was told the Hilton Hotel group were selling Sharkfin dishes in their Asian hotels. I found evidence of this on their very own website, however as soon as I confronted them the Sharkfin listing was removed from their online restaurant menu. Smart move. I sent out a plea on both Twitter and Facebook for additional evidence and received a snap shot of a Hilton restaurant menu confirming Sharkfin soup was being offered as well as viewing online customer reviews.

So the long, very long boycott started… Here’s a blog of mine from July 2012! LINK: http://sharksneedlove.co.uk/?p=150 – Little did I know how long this campaign would last, and little did I know we’d win against such a big organisation 2 years later..

For 2 years I was supported by the #SharkArmy and we tweeted, emailed and called various Hilton Hotels. We hit their pockets and reputation by refusing to visit or stay at a Hilton and by promoting and advising their dirty Sharkfin secret to our friends, family and strangers asking them to support us.

Images like these hit Twitter, Facebook & Instagram and the pressure was on. We regularly ‘aggravated’ them with contact and even ran campaigns where we tweeted their followers or replied to EVERY tweet they made. We NEVER gave up.

So, 2 years on and I woke to this one morning………………………………………

Can you imagine my face????? After a little research I found an official statement from the Hilton.

LINK: http://news.hiltonworldwide.com/index.cfm/newsroom/detail/26325

I was shocked, delighted, cautious, relieved but most of all appreciative. They finally did it, they committed to going FinFree, what an amazing announcement. It truly is an amazing result as the financial loss in removing an expensive, highly demanded dish (particularly in Asia) is not something any company would accept easily. It was fantastic news.

Now I’m not saying the #SharkArmy alone won this battle, although maybe we did as no other person or company continuously confronted them the way we did..? What I do know is our continuous and relentless pressure most certainly made a difference. See the tweet pic below which was RT’d over 267 times! And there were plenty of tweets with that exposure. The Hilton would NOT have liked that attention and coverage!

Anyhow I still can’t believe it, a super chain like the Hilton following in the footsteps of the popular, luxury hotel chain Shangri-La who removed Sharkfin from their menus a few years ago. Together they are showing Asia, and the world, it’s no longer acceptable to sell or consume Sharkfin soup in this day and age. Such a positive step towards reducing demand and setting an example for others to follow.

THANK YOU HILTON. Your commitment to remove Sharkfin dishes from your menus finally shows your appreciation and understanding that our oceans sharks are in danger and that your change in practise now supports their protection by reducing demand.

.. And last but not least THANK you everyone who supported me over the years with this challenging campaign. What an unbelievable result. Well done peeps!!!!!! … Who’s next :-)

‘On ya bike’…

Annie kindly asked if I wanted to write a little something to let you all know what I’m up to. I don’t know Annie personally, just through Twitter and Facebook but her support for my charity ride has been immense. How could I possibly refuse?

Anyway, my Name is Gerrard and I Love Sharks! And I’m going to ride my bike for them……………….

Charity Ride

In April 2014 I will be riding the length of the Outer Hebrides for two worthy causes, the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation (BBFSF) aka ‘Sharklab’ and Cancer Research. I hope to raise as much money as possible for these two very deserving charities!

The Route is as follows:

  • Stage 1 *Eriskay South Uist and Benbecula.*We will start in the burial ground in Vatersay
  • Stage 2 North Uist to Berneray, & Grosebay
  • Stage 3 Grosebay to Garynahine (Lewis – near Callanish Stones)
  • Stage 4 Garynahine to the Butt of Lewis – end of ride.

It’s approximately 170 miles and 12,000ft of ascent or 274km 3658 meters BUT this does not include my navigational skills so it could be much, much longer!

I’d been thinking about doing a charity ride for a while but where, with who, and for what reason? Once I’d decided to do the ride in the Hebrides my first thought was to do it for Cancer Research, a noble charity and one which helps many people in terrible situations.

Then I had a thought. I thought of Annie from SharksNeedLove and her previous fundraising efforts for the Shaklab. Knowing my little £10 donation back in January last year helped in some way towards the Lemon sharks of Bimini, I felt immense pride knowing I had actually helped a shark, a real one, in some way!

Sharks?

I’ve always been crazy about sharks, I’ve read about them, watched documentaries on them and have dreamt that one day I may actually see one. Imagine that! Yes I’ve seen one or two In Melbourne’s aquarium, but does that count? I doubt they even noticed my little nod of respect towards them as I gazed at their graceful beauty cruising past my view through the glass. And anyway, seeing a shark in its natural habitat is what it’s all about. Like watching the football on the telly, it’s not the same as being there. One day.. One day.

To go on; I emailed Annie, explained my ‘light bulb’ moment and after a few emails were exchanged she put me in touch with the world famous Prof Gruber, or ‘Doc’ as he’s affectionately known! Well, he was very pleased with my chosen charities and with much enthusiasm and gratitude he also sent me the following, very relevant link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTwymzmpJI8. I had no idea. Some people are incredible, some are off the scale!

So with two charities on my radar, my mind was set, I would ride for both causes. And guess what? Something kinda magical happened.. I’ve actually spoken to more people about sharks recently than ever before! You know the kinda conversations, “Anything exciting going on”? “Yeah, I’m doing a Charity bike ride for Cancer Research and Sharks.” “Sharks!?” “Yeah, sharks.” then I explain why…..

The magic continues; even if these people, total strangers in some instances don’t sponsor me, sharks may well pop in to their conscious or subconscious (!) minds at some point and they may well view or discuss sharks in a more positive light after recalling the conversation they had with me. Since the announcement of the ride I have seen extra ‘Likes’ on Facebook, additional RTs on Twitter and petition signatures from my friends which is just amazing! I’ve already made a small difference in educating others on the threats facing sharks and/or simply sharing the beauty of our oceans top predator.

BBFSF AKA ‘Sharklab’

With the work that non-profit organisations like the Sharklab do one day I might actually get to see a wild shark. We as shark lovers need good people like those at BBFSF to continue their research to help us understand more about them and to ultimately contribute to protecting some of the 500+ species of shark that cruise our oceans.

The Media as a whole need educating or perhaps a realisation of how they truly affect the views of the masses. People that sport fish, buy shark oils in pharmacies, buy seafood such as Tuna that has high shark bycatch rates or the obvious, consuming shark itself, all need educating and the media holds this power firming in their hands. You can only educate and inspire if you have the facts, the staff and volunteers at the Sharklab are helping to get those facts to support up-to-date research and to help protect endangered sharks such as the illusive, Great Hammerhead.

Sharks are majestic & beautiful apex predators. We need them in our oceans for many reasons. I hope that the money I raise will in some way contribute towards helping the Sharklab learn and understand a few new things about sharks, so they can continue to educate us all and help protect our finned friends!

To finish!

If you can afford to sponsor me, even a few pounds, I would be most grateful and very much appreciate ALL donations to both very deserving charities. You can find all details about the ride at www.myouterhebrides.co.uk Furthermore you can also locate links to additional websites which you may find useful and informative. There are even some galleries of the beautiful Hebrides!

 Thank you

I would like to finish by thanking Annie for giving me this opportunity to write to you all, and would also like to thank YOU for taking the time to read and share this blog.

Gerrard

#SaveSharks Chinese New Year Video!

SharksNeedLove were delighted to receive an invitation to take part in Dive Mag Indonesia’s Chinese New Year video, what an honour!!

The video was released just in time for the Chinese New Year celebrations where demand for sharkfin soup is arguably at its highest. The video shows a group of shark lovers from around the globe, including Jakarta, Bangkok and London expressing their disapproval of sharkfin food options and instead highlighting their preferred alternatives! For London it was SharksNeedLove flying the flag!

VIDEO LINK: https://www.youtube.com/embed/WCo4tnjIt68

The people representing London in the video were the following:

Annie Anderson

“As the founder of SharksNeedLove I was thrilled to receive an email from the truly inspiring Riyanni Djangkaru inviting me to skype with her to discuss Dive Mag Indonesia’s latest video campaign. Once on skype the sharkie conversation flowed and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take part in spreading awareness and supporting something so close to my heart. As you all know sharks are my passion and I will DO anything I can to help educate the public in whatever WAY I can! Please help spread awareness and share the video with friends, family and complete strangers! :)”

My Twitter: www.twitter.com/SharksNeedLove

Adam Stansbury

Adam in his own right is an inspiration; just read the story on his website to see what this man has been through and where his positive outlook on life has taken him. In 2006 Adam was critically ill with Ulcerative Colitus, an autoimmune disease which attacked and blocked his large intestine, resulting in him having it completely removed and rebuilt over 2 years, and 4 operations. Why is this relevant to sharks? Because Adam is a determined, passionate, ocean loving person and everyone should have someone like this fighting their corner, including our oceans sharks!

Adam said “Being part of the fitness industry means it can all too easily consume you and then when you open your eyes to the rest of the planet and the plight of some of our endangered species and the way they are treated, it truly shocks you and puts things in perspective. Sharks are an essential component to life on our planet, in and out of the ocean, so take a few minutes to remember today… Sharks Need Love!”

Would you like to know more about Adam?
Adam’s Website: www.coverfitness.co.uk
Adam’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/@coverfitness

Gemma Atkinson

Gemma is a ‘famous face’ here in the UK, not only for her successful modelling and acting career but for her deep rooted and passionate love for animals. Those who know Gemma know she is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to animal rights. She is loving, caring, compassionate, bold and most of all she’s not afraid to ‘say it how it is’ for those without a voice. ALL animals, including sharks are lucky to have a girl like Gemma on their side because her voice certainly speaks for those who can’t!

“I decided to get involved with this video as Annie made me aware just what was happening to our oceans sharks and it completely shocked me. I’m a huge animal lover but I’ll be the first to admit, I never really thought about sharks as I wasn’t aware of the dangers they faced. Having the knowledge now has made me determined to help stop the demand and sale of sharkfin soup. They were here before us, let’s respect that and keep them in the water where they belong and NOT on our dinner table!”

Would you like to know more about Gemma?
Gemma’s Website: www.gemmaatkinson.tv
Gemma’s Twitter: www.twitter.com/MissGAtkinson

 

Thank you

I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Riyanni, Dive Mag Indonesia and Astri Apriyani for including us in such an exciting, fun, yet educational video. I would also like to thank both Gemma and Adam for taking part in this video. Your support is most appreciated and your voice WILL be heard! THANK YOU for helping make a difference.

Annie

It started with a tweet! – Iberostar & Holiday Check

The following blog was written by #SharkArmy member Lisa and edited by Annie.
There I was one morning searching on Twitter for shark related tweets when I came across a tweet by Carlos Gavina (Twitter user ID: @cgshark).
The tweet was a photo of a Thresher shark being served whole, on a table, in a hotel restaurant for human consumption – and what a shocking and sad photograph it was! I say was as the photo has now been removed due to the pressures of our #SharkArmy. Anyway this is how it went!

I contacted Carlos (@cgshark) requesting additional information on the photograph and was promptly sent a link to the website publicising the image. This link showed HolidayCheck.com promoting the image which was on display in an Iberostar hotel in Tunisia. The photo could be found in the restaurant/buffet section for anyone to view.
So, I contacted Iberostar via Twitter and politely asked them to remove the photo. I explained how the majority of shark species were being exploited, that millions die every year and I reminded them about the toxins found in shark meat and the potential consequences this could have when consumed, especially for pregnant women. It wasn’t a surprise to me that I received no reply. A few tweets later and eventually they replied with something along the lines of This is no longer practised in our hotel”.

A positive, yet uninspiring response. Iberostar had removed shark from their menu, however the graphic photograph was still online promoting a very negative image. We weren’t finished yet!

After a little more investigation it became obvious that we were asking the wrong company to remove the image. Iberostar’s hands were tied and in fact only HotelCheck.com and the guest who posted the graphic image were the ones with the ‘power’ to remove the content. HotelCheck.com confirmed this in an email reply to me which stated “The pictures have been uploaded by one of the former guests of the below mentioned hotel. Holiday check does not delete pictures of former guests”. With the guest from Iberostar Palms Zarzis hotel untraceable we shifted our focus and put pressure on HotelCheck.com to remove the image from their website.

The graphic image was not only promoting the practice as acceptable but was also visible for children to view. The lack of warning regarding the high mercury levels found in shark meat was also a concern, especially for pregnant women who may having been viewing the image and lacking the knowledge that shark meat is in fact high in mercury (like Tuna, Marlin, Swordfish etc) and could possess a danger to their unborn baby. And we’re not even mentioning the lack of sustainability! The image needed to be removed.
In the meantime Iberostar tweeted to us and apologised for the photo confirming Iberostar would never use images such as these on its platforms. The photographs are published on unaffiliated websites and we have requested their removal”. They went on to say “It is not in keeping with our commitment to and respect for the environment” and ‘we regret this practise ever took place in our facilities, we have requested their removal’. To confirm; Iberostar themselves had requested the removal of the photo from HotelCheck.com! All we could do was wait, tweet, email and hope the photo would be taken down.

Many days later the photo was still online. The good news however is that the photo was being viewed and shared hundreds of times all over the world and the pressure on HolidayCheck.com mounted. The #SharkArmy continued the pressure and it appeared everyone had something to say about such a sad and shocking photograph.

Every day I repeatedly checked to see if the photo was still there for all to view and for days, it was. Then, on October 6th 2013 it disappeared! There was no trace of the image! Neither HolidayCheck.com or Iberostar confirmed the photo had been removed but it could no longer found, a true result indeed!!
To summarise; I would like to thank Iberostar for ending the sale of shark in their premises in the first instance and furthermore for supporting us on our campaign to have the photograph removed. I would also like to say a HUGE thank you to all who networked and sustained the online pressure during the weeks of conflict. It may seem like a small victory in comparison to the thousands of sharks killed every day, however this was about principle.

Removing a very negative shark image, encouraging a big company to back down and to set an example and showing the public we can make a difference together all stacks up to a positive result. This campaign provoked a debate, helped spread awareness, engaged the public and ultimately contributed to protecting one of our oceans top predators. Furthermore knowing this image is no longer available to view means the practice will not be seen as acceptable for people that may have viewed it in the future.

Great job everyone!